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A hard look at the Bush budget

Dear Editors,

First of all, the Republicans would like you to forget that President Bush inherited a huge budget surplus from President Clinton (estimated $4 trillion projected), squandered that and, as of today, we're looking at a $412 billion deficit. With the Bush admin's Enron style of accounting they DO NOT include the cost of the war (expected to cost $82 billion this year alone) and they also DO NOT include his scandalous Social Security privatization (estimated overall cost of near $2 trillion. Can you really omit something like a pre-emptive war from your budget?

Please, let me take a few words to thank the men, women and kids forced to fight these tragic wars.

Unfortunately, this 2006 budget sticks it to you (and ALL vets) especially hard. More than half of Colorado's 430,000 vets will have to pay double for prescription drugs and a new $250 fee to access their health care. Bush also breaks his promise for an increase in death benefits to families of soldiers killed in action. Thanks vets .

How about the much touted "No Child Left Behind?" Well he's really leaving 'em behind this year.

The 2006 budget underfunds his own program by $13.1 billion. Under this budget 27,635 Colorado children will go without promised help in reading and math. You don't need those skills to work at frickin' Walmart!! This is the fourth year in a row that George W. Bush has underfunded his own program. What an ass.

Remember Osama Bid Laden? The real terrorist. Bush seems to have forgotten him since we captured Saddam (Fox News viewers: Saddam Hussein had no involvement in 9/11). For some stupid reason, he's slashing $415 million from Homeland Security. (All your friends and family who voted for Bush need to know this). Bush's budget fails to provide for an additional 2000 border patrol agents. This was promised in landmark intelligence reforms passed last year and endorsed by the 9/11 commission.

The environment? Forget about it. $283 million cut from Wildland Fire Management. This doesn't make sense because when fires do occur, the federal, state and local govs have to pony up the cash anyway. Usually much more. Bush plans to cut funding to clean up hazardous waste and radioactive hot spots (Rocky Flats) by $800 million. Clean water funding in Colorado will be cut by $3.1 million. Cutting child care for 300,000 American children. Slashing food stamp aid for 200,000 to 300,000 low income Americans nationally. Despite his State of the Union speech, the 2006 Budget screws 65,070 Colorado students out of Pell Grants to the sum of $85.6 million. He also cuts after-school programs for 16,538 Colorado kids. These boost academic achievement and keep kids safe so their parents can work.

He continues to provide $6.6 billion LESS than is authorized under the Higher Education Act. Not to sound completely negative, what about $197 billion in TAX CUTS to the upper 1 percent of the income bracket? Their kids go to private school. They'll never fight in a war. They go to the best doctors regardless of cost, insurance etc. Good for them. Bad for the remaining 99 percent of the U.S. population. Call/write the Salazars, make some noise.

This is just ridiculous.

- Bill Vana,


Help state get a grip on finances

To the editors,

At this point most of us are aware that Colorado's fiscal problems are causing devastating cutbacks in a variety of services we had taken for granted in our local communities. You may agree that some change is necessary. However, can you say that you really understand the myriad of proposals various groups have put forth? Gov. Owens and Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff each have proposals on the table. At this moment, Speaker Romanoff's option, HB1194, has passed the House. But is it popular enough to attract enough votes in the Senate to pass during this session? Is the governor's solution? A coalition of the League of Women Voters of Colorado and AARP has settled on one proposed citizen initiative after considering several others. Is that one popular enough to attract enough voters to pass in the general election next fall? Do you have a solution to suggest?

Carol Hedges, Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, and Mary Kreutzer, AARP Legislative Advocate, will visit Durango on Tuesday, March 22, to discuss the situation, field our questions and help us evaluate the options currently on the table. The session will be held at the La Plata County Senior Center at 12:15 p.m. and is open to the public.

Please take the time to inform yourselves and be an active participant in solving our state's fiscal problems.

- Marilyn Brown, president,

League of Women Voters,

La Plata County

Give the nod to Virginia

Dear Editors,

I am writing to wholeheartedly encourage you to vote for Virginia Castro for Durango City Council.Since I have lived in Durango (12 years), I believe that Virginia Castro has been the best Mayor Durango has had. Virginia has no problem making a tough decision when the stakes are on the line and is not afraid to stand up for what she believes. Over the last four years, Virginia has been instrumental in pushing the city to recycle plastic, finish the Animas River Trail underpass, preserve open space and adopt green-building standards.

On a personal level, she is extremely approachable and always willing to provide an open ear to the people she represents.I can think of no one better for the position.Please join me in voting for Virginia Castro for Durango City Council.

- Michael Rendon,





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